Do we need self-help books?

By now everyone has likely heard of self-help books and stories of their power in improving people’s personal and professional life. Although the genre has existed for long, it has seen a huge increase in popularity in recent years, as predicted by experts. Influx in supply has however meant a decrease in quality, as many of them get written and published quickly based on trends than their actual literary value.

Seeking to improve oneself is an admirable quest, and self-help books can be a great tool for it. Where many make a mistake is when they take one book or an author as their sole guide to happiness and perfection and try to follow their instructions literally. Self-help books should be taken as guidelines you can apply in a way that’s best suited for you, and the process should be done carefully.

How to select the right books

Even though the idea of all self-help books is fundamentally the same and the tips are universal, you should look for books suitable for your situation and you as a person. It’s important to research the author well, because a person’s background, education and experiences affects their viewpoint a lot. When you relate to the author and their experiences, reading the book can feel like a group therapy session.

It also makes a difference whether you choose a mental health book directed at young parents or senior citizens. Good books have clear target audiences, so that their messages come across correctly, and hit home for the readers. Same goes for a guide to manage a whole company vs a small team – you don’t want to end up worse than you started after using tips from a book.

Avoid getting ripped off

Many readers and acclaimed authors have expressed their frustration at the way publishers choose who they give contracts to. Nowadays it’s not uncommon for a famous social media influencer or a blogger to publish a self-help book based on their posts, in hopes of easy profits. Oftentimes these unfortunately do not go through as tough an editing process as regular books, and the results can be pageful of nonsense without a clear structure or goal.

One easy way to spot a bad self-help book is if it promises results that are too good to be true, like winning at an online casino or getting your lost hair back within days. Going through book reviews can save you a lot of trouble and money lost in bad books. It is actually smarter to loan a book from a library or a friend first, and in case you like it, buy it later.

Self-help books can be beneficial to many people, as long as they are taken as a collection of ideas and ways to understand your own reactions and behavior, rather than the ultimate truth or fast-track to happiness. By using common sense and available resources to pick the books best for you will help you dodge a disappointment.